Dennis Oland found guilty of second-degree murder in death of father
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Dennis Oland collapsed into a chair, sobbing uncontrollably, as a New Brunswick jury found him guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his father, prominent businessman Richard Oland.
Oland began crying and saying, "Oh my God," after the verdict was read Saturday in a Saint John court. He also could be heard saying, "My children."
Family members cried and hugged each other, and many appeared to be in disbelief with the verdict, which came after about 30 hours of deliberations.
A statement from Oland's mother Connie said the family was shocked by the outcome.
"Our faith in Dennis' innocence has never wavered and the jury's decision has not changed that belief," the statement said. "We will now discuss our options with the legal team. We sincerely believe justice will eventually be served."
Oland's uncle Derek was also supportive.
"We continue to believe our nephew and cousin Dennis is innocent and we will support him and his family members through the course of whatever legal actions will unfold," a statement said.
Family members didn't speak as they left the court. Dennis Oland's wife Lisa carried his overcoat as she walked to a waiting vehicle.
Crown Prosecutor P.J. Veniot made a brief statement thanking the jurors, but he declined to take any questions from reporters.
The trial, which began in September, heard from nearly 50 witnesses and revealed a case built on what Justice John Walsh called largely circumstantial evidence.
Richard Oland's body was found face down in a pool of blood in his Saint John office on July 7, 2011.
He had suffered 45 blunt and sharp force blows to his head, neck and hands, although no weapon was ever found.
The Olands are an establishment family in the history of the Maritimes, having founded Moosehead Breweries. Richard Oland left the family business in 1981.
During the trial, the Crown focused on possible issues of motive including Dennis Oland's financial difficulties and the knowledge his father was having an affair.
But in his own testimony, Oland downplayed his finances as a recurring issue in the life of a financial adviser and said he never raised them with his father. He also said the two never discussed his father's affair.
The defence called just three witnesses including Oland. The Crown called more than 40 witnesses.
Oland told police his father was a difficult person at times but rose to the occasion and funded his divorce. Oland said he didn't have any involvement in his father's death.
"I had no reason to kill him," he said in the 2011 interview with investigators.
The key piece of evidence for the Crown was a brown jacket worn by Dennis Oland that had a number of small blood stains and also DNA that matched the profile of Richard Oland.
However, none of the expert witnesses could say how long the blood had been on the jacket or how it got there.
The defence pointed to video that showed Dennis Oland and his wife shopping later on the evening of July 6, 2011 when people working below Richard Oland's office say they believe they heard the sounds of the murder.
The work of the Saint John Police Department was also under scrutiny, particularly at the crime scene.
The jury was told officers used the back door of the building before it could be fingerprinted. They used a washroom for two days before it could be examined, and they did not ask a pathologist to determine if a drywall hammer was the probable murder weapon.
Saint John Police Chief John Bates issued a statement Saturday recognizing that the force's investigation has been criticized.
"I do take some solace in the fact that our investigative team and the force as a whole... will have realized a degree of validation," the statement said. "Not for a second did I waiver in my belief or faith in their integrity, effort, or investigative skills."
A conviction on second-degree murder carries a life sentence with a range of parole eligibility set between 10 and 25 years.
All 12 jurors have recommended that Oland have no chance of parole for 10 years, however the final decision rests with Justice Walsh.
Sentencing arguments are set for Feb. 11.